Know where to look for jobs
Not only is it not your father's job search anymore. It's not
even your slightly older sister's.
While employers still use headhunters to vet candidates,
especially for senior positions, increasingly they are relying
on resume scanning software and online "assessment" tests to do
an initial sort of the wheat from the chaff.
And rather than posting an opening on a general jobs site, which
can bring in too many you-must-be-joking candidates, companies
are using jobs sites or parts of jobs sites that are specific to
their industry, said Mark Bartz, cofounder of resume and
job-search consulting firm Executive Careers Inc. They're also
beefing up their corporate sites so potential hires with a
specific interest in a company may submit resumes.
Increasingly, too, job seekers may submit resumes for a type of
job rather than a specific job opening, said Ginny Gomez, vice
president of product management of Peopleclick, a recruiting
software and consulting firm.
When a job does open up, HR will electronically sort through the
resumes looking for key words to find attractive candidates,
Bartz said. (See Secret 2 on how to make your resume stand out.)
When you do use a corporate site to submit your resume, you may
be asked a series of questions designed to give the employer
some sense of whether your personality is a good fit for the
type of job you're seeking and to test your advertised skills.
"(The questions) are an ever-growing component to a company's
recruiting strategy and knowing this, candidates should know
that by not completing an assessment, they are removing
themselves from consideration," Gomez said.
Ensure a company wants to talk to you
Tailor your resume so that it highlights high up your experience
relevant to the job or type of job in question. Make it easy on
the person reading it to figure out why they should consider
you, said Phil Carpenter, vice president of marketing at
SimplyHired.com, a jobs search engine.
One way to do that is to "stress results, not activities,"
said Amy Hoover, executive vice president of TalentZoo, a
recruiter specializing in communications jobs.
Your goal is to get the person who eventually reads your resume
(and cover letter) to ask, "How did you do that?" said Mark
Bartz, cofounder of resume and job-search consulting firm
Executive Careers Inc.
What will set you apart from your competition is to give an
answer that not only speaks to your education, training and
experience, but also to soft skills that you possess but that
can't be easily taught, such as intuition, discernment,
creativity and resourcefulness. "That's the X factor that gets
you the job," he said.
But the only way you'll ever be asked the question is if your
resume makes it through the early lines of defense, which may
very well be resume scanning software, which looks for key words
or phrases specific to the nature of the job you'd like and the
industry it's in.
Bartz recommends branding yourself on your resume and cover
letter - for example, as "a product marketing manager with
expertise in product branding, market research and
team-building." Then pick out from your past work experience 12
to 20 key words or phrases that amplify each of those areas of
expertise. For instance, for market research, you might have
worked on projects involving "demographic analysis" or a
Demonstrate that you want the job
Saying that you want a position and showing it are two different
What will distinguish you from other candidates is, for
starters, a cover letter that lets the recipient know you've
actually spent time thinking about the company's business and
the role you could play in it if you're hired, said Phil
Carpenter, vice president of marketing at SimplyHired.com, a
jobs search engine.
Beyond that, before or after an interview, put something
together to show the company how you think it might market its
product better or improve its service, said Amy Hoover,
executive vice president of TalentZoo, a recruiter specializing
in communications jobs. "It will set you apart from the
In an interview, highlight the successful projects you worked on
in which you had the most fun because your passion will come
through, and that is a trait companies want to see, said Mark
Bartz, cofounder of resume and job-search consulting firm
Executive Careers Inc.
Stick to the tried-and-true
There are some things about a successful job search that remain
Having a firm understanding of the nature of the job you're
applying for, the company where you'd like to work and the
industry the company is in are all critical, said Ginny Gomez,
vice president of product management of Peopleclick, a
recruiting software and consulting firm.
There's nothing like having an "in" at a company as opposed to
just going through HR channels. If you don't know someone
personally at a company, you might find a connection through one
of the business-focused networking sites such as LinkedIn and
NetShare, said Mark Bartz, cofounder of resume and job-search
consulting firm Executive Careers Inc. (Read about how LinkedIn
Once you do get an interview, give the interviewer something to
remember you by, such as a sample of a successful project you
worked on, said Phil Carpenter, vice president of marketing at
SimplyHired.com, a jobs search engine.
Courtesy is as an asset. "A proper handshake and
thank-you-for-your-time goes a long way," said Amy Hoover,
executive vice president of TalentZoo, a recruiting firm
specializing in communications jobs. And be sure to email a
thank-you note within 24 hours after an interview.
|The Four Principles of Career Distinction
By William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson
To succeed and find fulfillment in the new world
of work, you must change the way you think about your career.
It's time to treat career management as an ongoing activity.
Creating your personal brand is a great way to get you to change
the way you think about your career. Your ultimate goal should
be to distinguish yourself for career success.
But before you start working on building your brand, you'll need
to adopt a new mindset -- the Career Distinction mindset. This
new way of thinking about your career is comprised of four
simple principles. Adopt these principles, and get ready to grab
hold of your future!
Principle #1: Stand Out. Stand for Something.
Just doing your job, and even doing it well, is no longer
enough. "Loyalty" and "longevity" were the watchwords of the
past. In today's workplace, creativity has trumped loyalty;
individuality has replaced conformity; pro-activity has
superseded hierarchy. You can't wait for job assignments -- you
must create them. With intense competition and pressure from
shareholders to deliver ever-higher returns, companies have
begun scrutinizing each and every employee to assess his or her
value to the organization. If members of the executive team
don't know you're there (regardless of the amount of hard work
you contribute), then, unfortunately, they figure they won't
miss you when you're gone.
In corporate positions, sales, independent business, and even
politics and the media, people have now realized that you need
to "make a name for yourself" if you hope to stay in your
profession. Those who can simply do the job don't receive nearly
as many opportunities as those who carve out a unique niche for
themselves. And the higher you move up the corporate ladder, the
more important this kind of personal branding becomes. It's all
about adding value beyond what those in your same or similar
positions deliver. It's about standing out, and standing for
something special. So get out of your comfy office and make sure
all the people around you understand the value you deliver to
Principle #2: Be Your Own Boss.
To take the helm of your career and steer it toward your future,
you must be your own boss -- controlling your destiny, finding
and seizing opportunities, and marching up the ramp of
advancement in your profession. As your own career boss, you
decide which positions you will take, how much effort you'll
invest in each job, and how you'll handle the challenges you'll
inevitably encounter. You control how you present yourself and
your intellectual and emotional assets, and even whom you
position as your allies and your opponents.
At first thought, you might disagree. Perhaps you think your
manager -- or the CEO or board of directors -- controls your
future. Maybe you assume that your company's success -- in the
form of rising stock price, customer satisfaction, and
profitability -- will carry you indefinitely. Never count on
outside forces to ensure your success. You can't control these
forces, so you'll constantly be vulnerable to them. But you do
control your own personal brand. Consider this: your skills and
unique personal attributes don't disappear if your company's
stock price plummets. Your future doesn't unravel if an
executive who powerfully supported your advancement leaves the
company. Your personal assets are yours, and no one can take
them away from you. You must take responsibility for these
assets and use them to your advantage. In short, seek strength
in yourself, not your circumstances.
Principle #3: Forget Climbing the Ladder. It's a Ramp.
Many people still think of their career as a ladder with their
ultimate goal being that top rung. Even from the bottom, you can
see the top rung off in the distance. You climb the ladder,
progressing in your career one milestone at a time. At each
rung, you work diligently on what you're doing at that moment.
In fact, you might occasionally find yourself stuck in that
moment. You forget about that next step because you're sure
you'll get there when the right time comes without encountering
any obstacles. And with that mindset, you've fallen into
Then something happens. Perhaps you become bored and seek a
greater challenge or perhaps the project you're working on falls
through for whatever reason. Only when that "something" happens
do you think about that next rung in your career. You put
together your resume, reconnect with lost professional contacts,
and so forth. You expend enormous effort connecting with
recruiters, writing cover letters, refining your career
marketing materials, searching through job boards -- all the
failsafe methods that people used back when the world of work
But in today's knowledge economy, this sporadic, effortful
approach to career management is no longer the best approach.
Instead, you have to get rid of the rungs of the ladder (sorry,
TheLadders.com! We do love your name!) and view your career
climb as a continuous ramp. When you're ascending a ramp, you
don't stop and relax -- you're constantly advancing, in
perpetual motion toward your professional goals. In this
scenario, you don't wait for a trigger to move you to the next
step in your career. You manage that movement yourself, every
day of your life and with everything you do -- every project you
manage, every meeting you attend, every phone call you place.
Once you adopt this mindset and make these corresponding
behaviors part of your regular routine, you never have to make a
focused effort to work on your career again. Instead, you're
always thinking about it and tweaking it as a matter of course.
It's like brushing your teeth in the morning: career management
becomes something you just do.
Principle #4: Build Your Personal Brand.
If these elements of the Career Distinction mindset sound
familiar, that's not surprising. Corporate marketers have used
them for years. It's called branding. The Career Distinction
mindset puts you in position to brand yourself, much like a
company or product.
Remember, while corporate branding typically requires scores of
ad execs and million-dollar marketing budgets, personal branding
requires only you. You are your own 24/7 billboard and
interactive ad campaign. Every day, in everything you do, you
tell the world about yourself, your values, your goals, and your
skills. In fact, you already have a brand -- even if you don't
know what it is, and even if it isn't working for you the way
you'd like it to. Clarify and create your personal brand in
order to achieve career distinction. Then, communicate that
brand unerringly to those around you. You're well on your way
toward career advancement!
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This page was last updated on
Thursday July 16, 2009